Daniel Solove is the author, and has all the liberal credentials to promote the establishment line: JD from Yale Law School, is an “expert” on privacy with many books on the matter (some of them best sellers), and has been quoted in such mouthpieces as the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and NPR. Not a single citation for anything remotely right of center: Washington Times, National Review, American Spectator, etc. So we now where he is coming from.
His thesis: intrusion into our private affairs is concerning, but not too much. He frames his conversation around “myth-busting”, which is a literary tool used to control the parameters of the discussion, and forcing us, his readers, to consider his point of view inside those parameters. Watch:
1. The collection of phone numbers and other “metadata” isn’t much of a threat to privacy.
Whom someone is talking to may be just as sensitive as what’s being said. Calls to doctors or health-care providers can suggest certain medical conditions. Calls to businesses say something about a person’s interests and lifestyle. Calls to friends reveal associations, potentially pointing to someone’s political, religious or philosophical beliefs.
2. Surveillance must be secret to protect us.
The public must know about the general outlines of surveillance activities in order to evaluate whether the government is achieving the appropriate balance between privacy and security. What kind of information is gathered? How is it used? How securely is it kept? What kind of oversight is there? Are these activities even legal?
3. Only people with something to hide should be concerned about their privacy.
When privacy is compromised, though, the problems can go far beyond the exposure of illegal activity or embarrassing information. It can provide the government with a tremendous amount of power over its people. It can undermine trust and chill free speech and association. It can make people vulnerable to abuse of their information and further intrusions into their lives.
There are two other “myths” that he “exposes” in his article, but I’m getting off the bus here. Do you see the underlying assumption in his thinking? He thinks that government should be in the business of spying on us, just not too much.
But if the republic were still in place, then we, as sovereign citizens, should be asking, “Just who do you think you are, spying on us?” We’ve hired you to do a certain limited job, primarily enforcing contracts and the law. That’s it. That’s why Article One, Section 8 exists. I can’t find anything in there that tells our servant, the national government, to spy on us for our own good.
And that’s the underlying message Solove and the Washington Post is delivering: the government is “large and in charge” and we just have to go along with it because…because they say so.
Subtle and effective. It’s OK to question what the government is doing, just not too much.